Saturday, April 29, 2006

Pimpin' Is Not Stylin'

This is pimpin’. Lavont E. Baker, 38, a convicted predatory sex offender, listed at Multnomah County’s predatory sex offender website, is a pimp. He targets underage girls. With the help of a couple of friends he kidnapped a girl assaulted and raped her, then forced her to go to work for him as a prostitute. She was hit in the face with a glass bottle and threatened with a knife unless she submitted to gang rape. Then Baker threatened to dowse the girl in gasoline and set her on fire unless she went to work for him.

Baker spent more than 19 years in jail for that crime. "I made a bad decision when I was 16. Since then, my life has been in other people's hands,” Baker said at the time of his parole hearing in August 2004. He made a tearful plea to the parole board at that hearing. “I need for the board to believe in me. Give me this opportunity and just let me show you,” he said, “I've never had a Christmas with my daughter. Ever. My daughter will be starting college this year.” He pleaded, “I'm just asking the board to please give me an opportunity. Just please give me a chance. Please.”

Members of the parole Board grilled Baker over breaking the rules by establishing a personal relationship with a female guard at the State Prison. Baker explained it this way:

“Everyone always remembered all the bad I did. This officer suggested that I needed to have spirituality in my life. So she began giving me Scriptures to read and talking to me about different aspects that had happened in my life. At that time, to me, that felt like a pat on the back for me to continue trying to make positive strides to do the right thing. So I began going to church in the institution and just trying to push forward and to be somebody different.”

Michael Washington, Chairman of the State Parole Board, said, “I understand from what you've told us that this officer was being very helpful to you, but this clearly was a violation of the rules and caused the institution some great concern. It causes us some concern as well because it's going to be a lot more open and free out in society. We need to have some idea that the conditions that are going to be applied to you are going to be adhered to.”

The conditions of Baker’s parole are strict: He is not allowed any contact with minors, nor is he allowed to be present in any area that minors frequent. He is not allowed to have personal relationships with any female without permission from his Parole supervisor. He is not allowed alcohol or pornography and he is not allowed to enter bars or taverns. He has to attend AA and NA meetings, enter an Anger Management program and to submit to routine polygraph tests.

With these restrictions, Baker was released on parole August 30, 2004. His post-release supervision is scheduled to end August 21, 2021. I guess Lavont must have thought that the restrictions were a little severe. Or maybe his spiritual rebirth didn’t quite take, because he has disappeared and is now wanted by Multnomah County.

When I see kids going to Halloween parties as pimps, shows like “Pimp My Ride” and outrages like Pimpfants “stylin’ wear for infants,” I like to remind myself what the word “pimp” really means. Thanks, Lavont.

JD Chandler's Portland Crime Map

I found this website today It has been a plan of mine to map the locations of violent crime in Portland history for some time. This new website allows me to do it. You'll see that many of my earlier postings have new hot links. These links should take you to the map of the crime scene. I will continue to add these locations as I publish posts. I hope you are all enjoying what I am doing here.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Remembering Anna

Picture from the Columbian
Vancouver, Washington came together yesterday to honor the memory of Anna Svidersky, 17, who was killed last week while working at McDonald’s. Matt and Val Hadwin, (that’s Val in the picture) the owners of the McDonald’s on NE Andresen Rd, where Anna worked, announced that they would donate the proceeds of their sales on Thursday to the Memorial Fund for Anna Svidersky.

The Hadwins expected to raise about $15,000 for the girl’s family, but were surprised to find their restaurant swamped with customers from the time they opened in the morning until they closed at 10pm. People came from all over to order food to benefit the young victim’s family. The Hadwins and their expanded staff, workers from McDonald’s all over the region donated their time to help with the event, served over 2,600 customers, more than double the daily average.

Orders were twice as big as normal, as well. Some local businesses bought lunch for the entire staff and many people waited in line to make a donation, but not to eat. At the end of the day the Hadwins had raised over $80,000. McDonald’s corporation agreed to match the contributions with $1.50 for every dollar raised. Portland area McDonalds are each contributing 25 cents for every dollar raised.

At the busiest point yesterday afternoon there were 27 people behind the counter and two drive-through lanes with cars backed up for blocks. Supervisor Jim Gilbert acted as a carhop taking orders from drivers in line and running orders out to the cars. Gilbert was still enthusiastic after 8 hours on his feet. He said he would gladly endure sunburn and sore feet for Anna. “She always made you laugh if you ever were having a hard night," he said.

Many of the people who waited in line for hours to make a donation said they didn’t know the girl and that they rarely visit McDonalds. “I just wanted to support the family,” said Sandra Gordon of Vancouver. The randomness of the attack and the vivid personality of the victim have touched a chord here, most people seem to feel that Anna Svidersky could have been anyone’s child.

Meanwhile, her accused killer David Barton Sullivan , is awaiting mental evaluation of his competence to stand trial. First he will do a 15 day evaluation at Western State Mental Hospital. If he is found to be not competent, he will then spend 90 days at Western State, where he will undergo drug therapy and education about the criminal justice system. If he is still considered to be incompetent he can spend a second period of 90 days. If at that point he is still considered to be incompetent for trial he will be committed indefinitely to Western State.

If convicted of first degree murder with a deadly weapon, Sullivan faces between 25 and 32 years without parole. Because of crowding at the state hospital, Sullivan may have to wait as much as 90 days before his initial evaluation can start.

After the fundraising event at McDonalds a candle light vigil was held in memory of Anna. More than a thousand people participated in the vigil. Contributions to Anna Svidersky's family can be made at any First Independent Bank branch. Ask for the Memorial Fund for Anna Svidersky. All Clark County McDonald's restaurants will accept donations for Svidersky's family for the next month.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Pandora's Box Murder

The summer of 1946 was hot in Portland, in more ways than one. For at least a week it was over a hundred degrees everyday. Jack Teagarden played Jantzen Beach. You could almost hear the surf break in the rhythms of his band and the Columbia filled in for the sea.

It was a good year for movies. In one week that summer you could see: Spellbound, Mildred Pierce, A Walk in the Sun, or The Spiral Staircase. Portland always has been a good movie town.

There were 52 cinemas to choose from. Ranging from the stars of Broadway: Orpheum, Music Box, Oriental; to the classics: Aladdin, Baghdad, Rose Way; to the skid row: Star-"Jungle Virgin" plus burlesque, and 3rd Avenue--"Bring on the Girls" plus burlesque.

Besides Jantzen Beach, Oaks Park and Council Crest, it was not a good season for nightlife. The Fireside Room was, for obvious reasons, closed for vacation. Houston's was selling punchbowls made of ice. The Rose Room was closed for remodeling.

If it wasn't a night at the movies, or to take the air, and the crowds outdoors, you could take a drive. Thank God, gas was plentiful again; everything else was in short supply. With wartime controls still in place and famine stretching from India to Germany it was a time of shortages. Editorial cartoons illustrated the mood: Uncle Sam is waving the flag. A man says to him, "Nice, buddy, but do you know where I can get a shirt?"

Some people were glad the war was over. They listened to the war trials in Nuremberg and Tokyo and thought hanging was too good for the bastards.

Some were 18 and 19 year-old boys in the service and mad that there was no one to fight. That summer there was a rash of assault, robbery, rape, kidnapping and the occasional murder committed by sailors of the U.S. Navy. The traditional sailor’s weapon in Portland, a heavy beer mug, seemed to have graduated to a whiskey bottle by this time.

Violent crime has been a major part of Portland since the pioneer days. It was no different in 1946. William Kilpock, a 22 year-old war veteran said, “War is safer than standing in a Portland street. " He had a good reason to say this. One evening standing in front of the Orpheum Theater, after a show, Larry Brown, an ex-mental patient snuck up behind Kilpock and brained him with a hatchet. Kilpock survived a critical head injury. Brown went up for attempted murder.

There was also the gruesome reoccurring story of the woman's torso found wrapped in burlap floating in the Willamette. All summer long parts were found. Downtown the robbers and lunatics were bold. In the neighborhoods the crime was more domestic. The usual weapon was a knife, sometimes a gun. The killer was usually someone known and loved by the victim.

The most unusual of these cases occurred on Saturday July 27th 1946. On that evening, about 9 p.m. just as the rest of the city was starting to cool down, things got too hot for Fern Bowden. Her two teenage daughters were out with friends, her husband, James, on a fishing trip to Newport.

Things weren't good between Fern and Jim. She had filed for divorce a month ago and ever since had been waiting for the other shoe to drop. Jim had been nice, after his initial outburst, very hurt of course but putting up a good front. It was his jealousy, it pushed her further and further away. Ever since he got back from his war work in Alaska, he had been so suspicious. And there was Fred, whom she worked with at the freight terminal. He was so understanding and solid.

What was worrying her now was what was in that locker in the basement. The girls had seen Jim working down there with gloves on and he had yelled at them to stay away. It worried her, that's why she got the girls out of the house. A couple of drinks and a phone call to Fred to build up courage and then it was time.

At 8:45 p.m. the Hit Parade ended on KOIN. It was now or never. She left the radio on and could hear Tony Martin come on as she descended the stairs. A few minutes later the modest house in Southeast Portland was badly damaged in a blast that was felt several blocks away. Fern Bowden died instantly, her body so badly mangled that identification was difficult.

The patrolmen first on the scene thought it looked like a powder blast, maybe a hand grenade. They thought that maybe a war souvenir had exploded by accident.

James Bowden was questioned in Newport soon after the explosion. He denied knowing anything about it. Police began to suspect him after questioning his two daughters, Doris, 17, and Shirley, 13. The girls remembered seeing their father putting a paper-wrapped parcel into the footlocker. Their curiosity had been aroused by the fact that he wore gloves while he handled the package.

Among the debris in the basement police found a diary kept by Bowden. In it he had recorded the activities of his wife over the last couple of months, including meetings with a co-worker, Fred Hockenyos. A Clackamas Co. contractor came forward and said that he had sold Bowden six sticks of dynamite and some detonators in May. Bowden was soon arrested and charged with murder.

During his trial, which took place in December, 1946, Bowden claimed that he had built the bomb in order to kill Hockenyos, who he believed was having an affair with his wife. Bowden claimed that after building the bomb he had changed his mind and had locked it away in the basement until he could safely dismantle it. He said that he had warned his wife and daughters to stay away from the footlocker.

Both of the Bowden daughters testified at their father’s trial for what the press dubbed "The Pandora’s Box Murder." They said that their father had been acting strangely in the days before the explosion. He had aroused a lot of curiosity about the footlocker in the basement, even letting it be known that he kept his diary there. They believed that their mother had opened the footlocker to see what Bowden had written in the diary.

Judge Walter L. Tooze kept court in session day and night for a week in order to finish the trial before Christmas. After five hours of deliberation the jury returned a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree. James Bowden was sentenced to life in prison.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A Tragic Story Gets Weird

On April 14, 2006 a mysterious drive-by shooting at a day care center on NE Bryant left a 4-year-old boy seriously wounded. Two days later the police and the Oregonian were baffled – No Clues, No Suspects in Shooting. This article did have a clue, although it wasn’t recognized at the time.

The day care center was owned and operated by Tracy Crockett. Her son Charles Crockett is well known to the police. Lt. Eric Hendricks of the Portland Police Bureau said, “He isn’t a gang member, but he is known to members of the gang enforcement team.” Last April Charles Crockett was charged with attempted murder in the shooting of Elijah Mandley, 15. The boy was hit in the leg will riding in a car.

Mandley has a weird and tragic story of his own. His father Isaiah Mandley Sr. was arrested for possession of crack cocaine less than a year after the boy was born in 1990. Elijah was 2 when the state took him out of his mother’s home because of her drug abuse. Elijah and his brothers grew up in foster homes.

In February 2004 Elijah and his brother Isaiah Jr., 16, were at a party in Northeast Portland when Isaiah Jr. fired a gun at a passing car, and struck TyNiece “Mia” McCorvey, 14, who was standing near by, in the head. The girl recovered and Isaiah was tried as an adult for attempted murder with a firearm and was sentenced to six years.

After the shooting party guests lied to the police about what happened, but since then it has come out that the car Isaiah Jr. fired at was full of Young Thugs members. Young Thugs is a new gang that is emerging in Northeast Portland.

Elijah Mandley was wounded in April 2005 when Charles Crockett apparently fired a gun into Mandley’s car. Mandley would not cooperate with the police and Crockett was acquitted. Eight months later Elijah was riding in a sport utility vehicle with Crockett when they were pulled over by the police. They were found to be in possession of a loaded handgun and an illegal sawed-off shotgun.

Mandley said the shotgun was his; he had just bought it that day “for protection.” Mandley plead guilty to possession of an illegal weapon in juvenile court and was put on probation. He was also turned over to the custody of his father Isaiah Mandley Sr. Isaiah Mandley Sr. has been on a mission the last few years to get sober and get his sons back. Here is a link to his story in the Oregonian.

On February 14 this year, Elijah Mandley accidentally shot and killed himself while playing with a loaded handgun in the bathroom at his father’s home. Police believe that he had been posing with the gun in front of the mirror when it accidentally discharged.

It was a lucky break for Charles Crockett. With Mandley’s guilty plea and not being available to testify at Crockett’s trial, Multnomah County Judge Frank Bearden had no choice but to acquit Crockett of the weapons charge on February 27. This isn’t the end of Crockett’s legal troubles though; he is still the main suspect in the November 2, 2003 shooting death of Isaiah Strickland outside another Northeast Portland party.

Crockett was arrested a few days after the shooting at his mother’s home on a parole violation. That leads to the strangest new twist in the case. At a court hearing on Crockett’s parole violation this week, Deputy District Attorney Sean Riddell asked the court to keep Crockett’s bail at $100,000 because he represents a “threat to himself and the public.”

"There are people trying to kill Mr. Crockett, and what is very apparent, they're not very good marksmen," Riddell said. Portland Detective Bryan Steed testified investigators learned that Crockett told his uncle by phone that he was out looking for those responsible and "was going to take care of them on his own."

Crockett’s attorney, Spencer Hahn, argued that the prosecutions request was “ludicrous” since the charges against his client are nonviolent drug possession and curfew violations. Hahn claimed that the Portland Police Bureau has a grudge against Crockett and are trying to keep him in jail so they can gather information from him. He also charged Riddell with misconduct for making the request. He downplayed Crockett’s threat to his uncle, saying it was normal for a crime victim to want justice.

"We do not have to leave our common sense at the door," Riddell said. "We all know what Mr. Crockett means when he says 'he's going to take care of them on his own.'"

Judge Linda Bergman said, "I didn't leave my common sense at the door either. I never had a request like this one. I don't think it's misconduct, but I think it's unusual." Bergman said she had serious constitutional issues with the State’s request, calling it a "preventive kind of detention I just can't do."

Crockett was released Tuesday after testifying in the shooting that wounded the 4 year-old. He said he was in the house, but not in “visual range” of the street at the time of the shooting. The boy is stable and recovering and Crockett’s mother lost the license for her day care.

So Charles Crockett is on the street tonight looking for the people who shot at him. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that they were Young Thugs. Too bad they are more dangerous to innocent bystanders than to their targets. I think I will be staying away from parties in Northeast Portland this year.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Murder in Portland's Old Chinatown

Gong Fa, 23, a Chinese-American woman born in San Francisco, was murdered on SW Pine Street near Second, less than one block from the Police Station on November 10, 1893. Her throat was cut so severely that her head was nearly severed.

When police arrived on the scene, only a few minutes after the young woman’s death, some of the witnesses claimed that she had fallen from a second story window in the building in which she lived. A large pool of blood on the sidewalk and a razor sharp knife in the gutter under the body led police to believe that the woman had been killed on the sidewalk directly under a powerful electric street light.

To read the rest of the story you will need to get my book...

Sunday, April 23, 2006

This is Too Much

I couldn’t have said it better than the suspect himself. David Barton Sullivan after being arrested for the murder of Anna Svidersky, 17, in Vancouver, WA on Thursday, had this to say to the police, “This is all evil stuff I have done. This is too much.”

For background on this case, and the victim of this senseless crime, you should read my post Death of Anna Banana.

I had a feeling we would hear more about Mr. Sullivan and already we have. It is pretty clear that he was a time-bomb just waiting to explode. He doesn’t seem to have been able to help himself. As anyone who has had anything to do with the mental health system already knows, it is hard to get help when you need it. There has to be some way to stop this kind of thing from happening, though.

Sullivan was first arrested in 1999 and convicted of two counts of fourth degree assault with sexual motivation. So far I haven’t been able to find much on this conviction, but he couldn’t have spent too much time under supervision, because by 2001 he was back at it.

That year he tried to kidnap a 14-year-old girl from the Naydenov Gymnastics Center in Vancouver. This time the criminal justice/mental health system kept him busy for at least a little while as he spent time at Western State Mental Hospital. He was diagnosed paranoid-schizophrenic and entered a sex-offender treatment program. He pled guilty to Unlawful Imprisonment with sexual motivation and spent 90 days in jail. That 90 day sentence just gets me. Can it really be possible? Yes, it can.

In 2003 Sullivan was back at it, even though he was under community supervision. On June 14, he was spotted at Mountain View High School watching a 15 year-old girl running on the school track. When she left the track, Sullivan chased her, but she was able to get away. She identified Sullivan from a photo line-up of local sex offenders.

A corrections officer overseeing Sullivan’s case wrote on July 1, 2003 that he “has had difficulty adjusting to supervision, in part, because of his mental health disabilities.” His behavior at Mountain View High School "encompasses the same behavior which led to his previous convictions." The officer also noted that Sullivan had a stable living situation, he lived with his parents about a mile from the McDonald’s where Anna Svidersky was killed, and that he had begun mental health and sex offender treatment.

Who knows what David Sullivan has been doing since 2003? The next thing we know about him is that he left his parents house on the evening of April 20, carrying a kitchen knife and with the intention of “hurting a girl.” Police don’t believe that Sullivan knew Svidersky. It just seems to be a case of a pretty young girl in the wrong place at the wrong time and a dangerous man out to cause harm to someone.

Vancouver Police Chief Brian Martinek said, "It's unfortunately part of being a big city. We don't have any magic wall around us here." Do we really need a magic wall to protect us from society’s most violent? Maybe we just need a health care system (mental and physical) that works.

Here is a link to the Vancouver Columbian article.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Dark Strangler

Forty years before the term "serial killer" was coined and nearly fifty years before the concept of "sexual sadism" was described Earle Nelson, known to history as the Dark Strangler, practiced both. When he was finally executed in 1928 Nelson was charged with 23 separate murders and was a strong suspect in 8 more. Portland lost four women to America's first sexual serial killer.

Portland's Police Bureau, busily trying to keep order in the whorehouses and speakeasies of the North End, was not ready to deal with a highly dangerous psychopath. In fact it wasn't until Nelson had killed three women and moved on that Portland police even realized that they had all been murdered.

To read the rest of the story you will need to get my book...

Why Slabtown?

Portland, Oregon is fairly young as cities go. The city was born February 8, 1851 when Territorial Governor John Gaines signed an Act to Incorporate that had been passed by the Territorial House three weeks before. At that time Portland was derisively known as Stumptown and consisted of a steam saw mill, a log cabin hotel, the weekly Oregonian, and about 800 residents. The town already had several nicknames. First it was known as “The Clearing” and later Middletown, because it is located halfway between Ft. Vancouver on the Columbia and Oregon City on the Willamette Falls. Occasionally it was called Puddletown, for obvious reasons.

The nickname Slabtown was first used in the 1880s for the “tenderloin” district just behind the Port of Portland in what is now called Oldtown and stretching westward from the river to today’s Pearl District. This was an area of Sailor’s boardinghouses, saloons and brothels. In fact there was a solid block known as Whitechapel (from NW Couch to Davis between NW 3rd and 4th Aves) made up of tiny prostitute cribs, little stalls just big enough for a bed where women lived and worked. Erickson’s Saloon, with the longest bar in the west, was in this area. This was the time of Bunco Kelly, king of the Crimps (a Crimp kidnapped sailors for service on a ship) and the Three Sirens of Portland, Liverpool Liz, Mary Cook and Nancy Boggs. I intend to tell you about the careers of these people and many more over the coming days.

This rough part of town was known as Slabtown, because it was said if you went there it was likely you’d end up on a slab, if not on a China-bound ship. I like to use the nickname for Portland in general, especially when I am talking about the history of violent crime in this area. Portland is an orderly and pretty quiet town, but there is a wide streak of violence that has existed here since the earliest times.

I have spent endless hours pouring over microfilms of The Oregonian dating back to 1850 with one goal in mind; to collect a detailed chronological history of murder in Portland. This was a project I called the Slabtown Chronology. Although it is not complete it is a very extensive history from 1850 to 1999, the Chronology and the research notes I made during that project will be the source material for my new blog.

The Slabtown Chronology was a bare-bones, “just the facts” chronological history. Now it has evolved into the Slabtown Chronicle where I can explore the crimes I have documented in a more creative way. I hope you like it.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Death of Anna Banana

Anna Svidersky 1988-2006

She was excited about graduating from High School in a few weeks. She was excited about becoming “legal” in six days. She worked at McDonald’s. Her life was cut short while she cleaned the tables.

Anna Svidersky, 17, was stabbed to death while working at McDonald’s a few blocks from the High School she attended. The man held in her death, identified by Vancouver police as David Barton Sullivan, 28, is a registered Level II sex offender. The police say that there was no evidence that Anna and her killer knew each other.

Anna, like all the “cool” kids, had a website on You can look at her site here: . If you spend a little time with Anna on the web, you will find that she was first of all beautiful. She seems to have a group of friends who like to take modeling-type pictures of themselves. There are several pictures of Anna on her webpage. She said she was “[obsessed]” with Photoshop and she shows some real talent with graphic design and photography. There is no telling what she could have been or what she could have done.

People who knew her consistently say she “had a good heart.” She was like a lot of the Russian kids who live in Clark County, Washington, hard-working and bright. She worked a pretty full schedule at McDonald’s while going to school. She said, “Working makes the week go faster.” She also seemed to be quite popular at parties.

She was a senior in High School and just six days away from her 18th birthday when she died. Like a lot of soon-to-be adults, she was impatient for what she perceived as the adult life. Her pictures and general web-persona have a sexual overtone; she even changed her screen name to “[lovely] will be legal in 6 days”. I think when my generation was her age we were as obsessed with sex as a lot of these kids seem to be, but we didn’t have the World Wide Web to feed and disseminate our obsessions. If I was still 18, I think I would have wanted “Anna Banana” as a friend.

Information on the suspect is still pretty sparse. Under Washington law information about Level II sex-offenders is available to specific groups (such as residents of a neighborhood where the offender lives, and day car centers), but only available to individuals if the information is relevant and necessary to that person. I expect we will be hearing more about this man, David Barton Sullivan, over the next few days, but here’s what we know now.

Sullivan was convicted in 2003 of unlawful imprisonment with sexual motivation; in 2001 he tried to kidnap a 14-year old girl from the Naydenov Gymnastics Center in Vancouver. After the 2001 incident, Sullivan spent 90 days in Western State Mental Hospital, where he was diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic. He was deemed competent to stand trial, plead guilty and was sentenced to 90 days in jail. In 1999 he was convicted of two counts of Fourth Degree assault with sexual motivation. All three offenses were in Clark County, Washington.

Here is a picture of the suspect. It comes from the Vancouver Columbian. It also includes a school picture of Anna Svidersky:

Sullivan was tracked by police canine units and arrested a few blocks away from the McDonald’s on Andresen Rd, minutes after the stabbing. Police found a knife, which they believe is the murder weapon, discarded close by. Sullivan is being held without bail in the Clark County Jail. His arraignment is scheduled for April 28, two days after Anna would have turned 18.

A little time researching this crime and Anna’s short life, leaves me with an overwhelming feeling of sadness. This is a feeling I share with a lot of young people in Vancouver tonight. I have been in email contact with some of Anna’s friends and they seem to share the feeling that more than anything Anna’s life was too short.
For more on the suspect in this case read this post This is Too Much

We All Scream For Ice Cream

Someone broke into the house and stole Ruth Anne's Christmas presents that year. Ruth Anne was only four on Christmas of 1979, but she wouldn't be getting much older. Ruth Anne and her big sister, Bethany, 6, liked to walk up to Herfy's on Hawthorne for ice cream cones and treats. It made them feel like big girls to walk three doors down from their house to the restaurant on the busy street.

Mommy didn't like the neighborhood, though; she didn't think it was safe. The burglary on Christmas Day was weird, stealing only the baby's toys after she had opened them. That wasn't all. She often felt as if someone had been in the house when they were out, there was never anything missing before though.

This would be their last Christmas here. She had already sold the house. February first they would leave Portland for good. She was so glad. Oregon never had brought her much luck.

She shouldn't have let Ruth Anne walk to Herfy's by herself that Friday. Bethany was at a slumber party, so she couldn't go with her. The sun had just broken through the heavy sky. Most of all Ruth Anne wanted to. She knew she was big enough to go by herself. She really wanted to.

Her mother watched her as far as she could from the window. The restaurant was only three doors down from their house. Of course she would be all right, but her little rain coat disappeared behind a bush and that was the last time that Ruth Anne O'Neil's mother ever saw her alive.

Ruth Anne's mother went looking for her right away. After five minutes she was overcome with dread and she had to. Her heart almost stopped when she found Ruth Anne's rain boots in a garbage can behind the restaurant. The police found her later that night after an intensive search of the neighborhood. First they found her raincoat. Then the dollar bill with her mother's note on it. She was on a rubbish heap in a backyard nearby. She had been drowned.

The state medical examiner, Dr. William Brady said the "position of her body and location of clothes was extraordinary", but he would not elaborate. He said the autopsy revealed no bruises or evidence of any other physical or sexual abuse. The girl was found wearing denim pants and a knit sweater, but no underclothing. Her socks and shoes were found neatly placed near the body.

It didn't take the police long to find the killer. On Monday they took Michelle Gates, a 13-year-old neighbor, into protective custody. The archaic Oregon juvenile justice system didn't know what to do with a thirteen-year-old girl who killed.

As soon as you started talking to Michelle it became apparent there was something seriously wrong. She calmly admitted drowning the little girl. She also admitted drowning her three year old cousin, Natyah Ottino, in the duck pond at Washington Park Zoo in 1978. Up to this point Ottino's death had been thought to be an accident.

Michelle spent two years in a school for disturbed children in Maine. When she was 18 she was finally convicted of the juvenile equivalent of homicide. She spent nine months in detention. In 1991 Michelle, then 25, successfully petitioned to have her juvenile record expunged. That same year the Oregon State Legislature added homicide and sex crimes to the list of offenses that could not be expunged.

In 1992 Michelle Gates, now calling herself Michelle Shorthouse, was arrested for conspiracy to commit murder and arson. According to the FBI she had hired an ex-boyfriend from Bellingham, WA to kill her present boyfriend's ex-wife and burn down her house. The fire was set and the house was destroyed, but the ex-boyfriend balked at murder.

Cooperating with the FBI the ex-boyfriend made recordings of telephone calls with Gates in which she discussed where the woman should be shot and how many times. She also wanted him to kill the woman's husband and make it look as if they had surprised a burglar.

Why did Michelle Gates want the woman dead? She was mad at her because she told people about her past. Michelle thought that with his ex-wife dead her present boyfriend might finally marry her. Best of all she could adopt the woman's five year old son.

getting started

okay. i've been thinking about doing a crime blog for some time. well, at least since i started reading steve huff's great blog

i wasn't quite sure how to start, until today. the news of the murder of Anna Svidersky in Vancouver and my accidental finding of her page inspired me to finally do it. in a few minutes i will put up what i wrote about this case : Death of Anna Banana.

what i want this blog to be, though is a specific blog about crime in the Pacific Northwest, especially in the Portland Metro Area, where i live. i also want it to reflect my interest in the history of murder in this area. i intend to write mostly about historical crimes. i will keep up with current things that catch my attention as well. who knows what might develop here. i intend for it to be interesting reading if nothing else.

in order to reflect my interest in historical murders in Portland i will also post a story i wrote a few years ago called we all scream for ice cream.